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but previously to this another institution had been established, which has proved of inestimable benefit to the Navy, and has fully borne out the wise prevision of its originators. It was determined in 1832 to provide for a want which had been very much felt throughout the service during the great war—viz., a uniform and comprehensive system of gunnery. For this purpose the Excellent was commissioned by Captain (afterwards Sir Thomas) Hastings, as a training-ship for officers and seamen in a regular course of gunnery instruction. The peculiar conformation of Portsmouth harbour rendered it a most advantageous situation for the gunnery-ship; and, moored head and stern in a creek at the north end of the dockyard, completely out of the way of the traffic in the harbour, with a practice-range of three miles dry at low water, the Excellent has for thirty-two years admirably fulfilled her destined purposes; and, under the command of Sir Thomas Hastings and his able successors, has trained annually a large body of officers and men, who are, when properly qualified, sent into the different ships of the fleet to instruct the ships' companies in the various drills, and so disseminate one general system. Among the many defects which the want of proper organisation has created in our naval service, it is a great satisfaction to be able to turn to an establishment which is deserving only of praise.
When the Excellent was instituted, it was determined to instruct the officers in the theory as well as the practice of gunnery.
The utter want of mathematical knowledge possessed by all save the few who had been collegians, made it necessary to include a course of mathematics in the scheme of instruction; and as nearly every subject bearing upon the science of gunnery was likewise included, the "long course," as it was called, which an officer had to go through,
went far to make up for the neglect of his earlier education. Too much praise cannot be awarded to Sir Thomas Hastings and those who framed the course of instruction on board the Excellent. They felt the reproach upon their profession arising from the want of a proper educational system, and the serious inconveniences resulting therefrom; and if they could not reform the system at the root, where it was most required, they could now do somewhat to indemnify the service, and to make amends for the deficiencies of the Admiralty.
The stimulus thus administered was not without its result in another manner. In 1839 the College was reopened for the purpose of affording instruction to commissioned officers in scientific subjects; and as this establishment has been carried on to the present day upon the same footing, it requires special consideration. The building is the same as that before used for the volunteers, the cabins formerly occupied by them being now allotted to the officers studying. The establishment was placed under the general superintendence of the captain of the Excellent, but the immediate charge of the studies was assigned to a Professor. To this important office the Rev. Thomas Main was appointed, a gentleman not only himself highly distinguished for his mathematical attainments - having been senior wrangler of his year-but who belonged to a very talented family, his brother, the Rev. Robert Main, for many years first assistant at Greenwich Observatory, being now Radcliffe Observer at Oxford. To assist the Professor were Mr Jeans, mathematical master, who had long been associated with the College in its former existence as assistant to Dr Inman, and who is well known as the author of a series of excellent works on navigation and nautical astronomy; and Mr Brown, chief engineer, who was appointed as instructor in steam-machinery, and has for many years most admir
ably filled this office. A captain of the Royal Marine Artillery was likewise attached to the College as instructor in fortification and mechanical drawing for the young Marine officers who came there to go through a course of study to qualify for the Marine Artillery. A lecturer on chemistry completed the staff of instructors.
Accommodation was provided for twenty-five half-pay officers-captains, commanders, and lieutenants -who were, of course, admitted free of all expense for instruction, and had also sundry allowances for messing, so that a small monthly subscription in addition was all that was required. A certain number of mates on full pay were likewise admitted, for whom a special course of study was instituted, and a lieutenant's commission was awarded to him who, at the sixmonthly examinations, showed the highest degree of proficiency. But a curious regulation was made: that every mate wishing to join the College for study should first go through the course on board the Excellent; therefore every one desiring to compete for the lieutenant's commission was compelled, whether he wished it or no, to become a gunnery officer. No doubt the course of study required in the Excellent was a valuable groundwork for the more abstruse and laborious subjects that lay before them at the College, and in most cases the mates were only too glad to take advantage of such a preparatory school; but there were occasional instances when an officer of true mathematical genius had attained a degree of proficiency which would have enabled him to enter the lists at once had he been permitted; and in such cases-rare, certainly, but the more important on that very account-it was unnecessary and impolitic to compel him to go through the drudgery of the various drills, because he wished to follow up his scientific inclinations. It would have been better, because it would have manifested a
more liberal tendency, had it been left to the option of the officers themselves as to whether they chose to go through the Excellent or not; and an examination on joining the College would have prevented any from entering who were not possessed of sufficient attainments, and who, therefore, might be supposed to join only for the sake of convenience. This is perhaps hypercriticism, however; for certainly, notwithstanding the above obligation, no measure was ever adopted calculated to do more good to the personnel of the service than this competition for the lieutenant's commission. In the earlier years of this arrangement, when the lieutenant's step was most difficult of attainment, and officers were frequently ten, twelve, and fourteen years a mate, the prize was of very great value, and the numbers competing were generally full. But when, in later years, matters became altered, and officers obtained their lieutenancy, in the regular course of things, after only a year or two in the mate's rank, there was no longer any inducement for them to go through the severe course of study at the College; it was only those for whom scientific pursuits had a special charm who then cared to join the establishment; and for the last few years there have been no mates-or sub-lieutenants, as they are now called-going through this course of study. Although it is greatly for the benefit of the service that the promotion to the rank of lieutenant is made more rapid than it was formerly, yet it is to be regretted that some other arrangements were not made, and inducements offered, by which, either as sublieutenant or lieutenant, officers should still find encouragement to go through this course; for the system of study for the half-pay officers is of quite a different nature, as we shall presently see. The papers set at the mates' examinations were very difficult, considering the time allowed to go
through the course. They required a considerable knowledge of the higher branches of pure and mixed mathematics; and the problems in the Calculus, in astronomy, and in mechanics, &c., were such as might be met with in the Cambridge examination papers. In fact, the successful competitor for the lieutenant's commission and his closest rivals had to go through a twelvemonth's hard work, such as is known only to Cambridge wranglers; and instances occasionally occurred of the health of a candidate breaking down under the strain. It may well be supposed that the gainer of the commission held a proud position among his compeers; and it may with equal justice be presumed that the greater part of these successful officers, and of those also who strove-and in many cases ran a close race—with them for the prize, are now among the most distinguished ornaments of their profession.
For the half-pay officers there was no particular course of study specified, but each individual was at liberty to follow up any subject for which he had an inclination. The time allowed at the College was a clear year's study-exclusive of vacations and officers were permitted to join once in each rank. There are many officers in the service who have taken advantage of this permission; and there are some who have studied at the College as mate, lieutenant, commander, and captain successively.
When steam-vessels came into general use in the Navy, it was considered very desirable that the officers who might be appointed to command them should qualify themselves for this special service -as it then was-by acquiring a practical knowledge of the working of the steam-engine. Accordingly, they were encouraged to go to Woolwich Dockyard, which was at that time our only naval steam-factory, where an instructor was appointed and facilities were afforded for that purpose. Others studied the subject at various private fac
tories, the owners of which, in the most public-spirited manner, gave them every assistance in carrying out their object; one of these establishments, to which many officers repaired, being that of the Messrs Napier of Glasgow. Some officers, anxious to gain a thorough knowledge of the subject, did not disdain to wear the mechanic's apron and work at the lathe, or to take their turn in the stoke-hole and engineroom on board some steamer. In those days the command of a steamvessel was only given to those who had gone through a course of instruction in steam-machinery; and many officers who had failed to obtain employment in the ordinary course of matters, succeeded in doing so by this means. When the College was established upon its present footing, the instruction of officers in steam was naturally included in the arrangements; and a small steamer, the Bee, of ten horse-power, was built for that purpose, and attached to the College, Mr Brown being appointed engineer of her. By degrees, as steam-vessels gradually became the rule of the service and sailing - ships the exception, so the number of officers desiring to qualify themselves in steam increased; and now the greater part of the captains and commanders on the active lists have obtained certificates of having passed through the steam course. After the factory was established in Portsmouth Dockyard, and it shared with Woolwich the work of the steam navy, the many advantages which the College possessed caused officers wishing to study steam to go there in preference, and in time the Woolwich course practically ceased.
Having now brought the subject of naval education down to that of the present day, it remains to be considered as to how it answers the requirements of the service.
According to the present arrangement, a young lad goes to sea from the training-ship from thirteen to fifteen years of age, having learnt
the rudiments only of the education which is requisite to make a useful officer, and having acquired a smattering of seamanship-that is to say, a fair knowledge of rigging, and some acquaintance with boatmanagement-but with a complete ignorance of everything concerning the actual working of a ship at sea. And it is not improbable that he has never in his life been on board a vessel under way. Entered, then, as an officer of the Navy, and embarked on board a sea-going ship, he has first the various stages of sea-sickness to undergo, and then the mysterious process of "getting his sea-legs" to go through, during which time, it may easily be imagined, he is not only utterly useless on board, but not a little in the way. When he has passed through his novitiate, and has begun to feel at home on the deck of a ship at sea, he finds himself in the somewhat anomalous position of an officer and a schoolboy combined. His education has still to be carried on-as best it may under the difficulties we have before described-for he sees a series of examinations looming in the future; and at the same time he finds himself placed in responsible positions to govern and direct grown-up men in matters of which he is, in comparison with them, wholly ignorant. The consequence is, that the actual authority rests with the petty officer; the quasisuperior being only too glad to avail himself of his subordinate's better experience, and thus he contents himself with echoing his directions. On the other hand, if he be a vain and headstrong lad, or is impressed with high notions of his dignity as an officer, he attempts to carry out his own view of matters, and either mischievous consequences ensue from his ignorance, or else his orders are disregarded, and a breach of discipline is the result. For, putting aside the youngster's utter inexperience in professional matters, his extreme youth renders him quite unfit for command; and it requires an amount of self-control and rigid habit of discipline,
such as is only to be met with amongst the very best men of a ship's company, to insure his being treated with the respect due to his position as an officer. It often happens that a youngster is afraid to report the men in cases of misconduct, and thus many offences occur, and are passed over unnoticed, which are extremely prejudicial to the discipline of the ship. This produces its effects in fostering habits of insubordination among the ill-disposed of the crew, and the result is that the punishmentreturns are thereby increased, to the bitter mortification of the captain and first-lieutenant. For it is well known that a great part of the offences against discipline, both in the army and navy, arise from the ignorance, want of judgment, or the faults of those in authority. This, then, is a strong argument against the system of schoolboy officers. No doubt the evils we have pointed out are less serious than they were before the trainingship was established, but they still exist, and can only be eradicated by a further change of system.
After the first year or two of service the midshipman begins to be of some account in the ship. has now become quite habituated to a sea life, and has gained sufficient knowledge and experience to enable him to be of some use; moreover, he has acquired a certain amount of self-confidence, which, with his advance in age, causes him to feel and act more as an offi
He thus gradually becomes valuable to his profession; but it is very clear that while in this chrysalis state he had better have occupied some other position than that of an officer-as well for his own advantage as for the benefit of the service.
In no other nation in the world does this system of schoolboy officers exist. In France the cadets are received on board a harbour training-ship as with us, but the age of entry is later, being from thirteen to sixteen, and the course extends over a period of two years.
The staff of officers and professors in the establishment is much larger than ours, and the scheme of instruction is more comprehensive. There is a steam and a sailing corvette attached to the training-ship, in which the cadets take cruises during the summer months; and after leaving the training-ship they must complete their education by a probationary cruise of one year in a regular man-of-war, before they receive their commission as an officer. In every other maritime country on both sides of the Atlantic the cadets are educated in a naval college for periods varying from two to three years, and spend the summer months at sea in small vessels attached to the College for that special purpose. They are thus instructed in the various branches of learning which the peculiar nature of their future profession requires, and they gain a thorough practical knowledge of the rudiments of that profession, so that on joining the service they at once take their position as trained officers. It will be seen that the French system is the most nearly akin to ours; nevertheless, the general opinion amongst English naval officers seems to be in favour of a college, with training-vessels for summer cruising.
A plan which has been likewise suggested, and which has, as will be seen, great advantages, is as follows:-The educational course to take place entirely on board seagoing training-ships, and to extend over a period of three years, the age of entry being, as at present, from twelve to fourteen, with the same examination. One trainingship to leave England each year with the whole number of cadets entered for that year, and the vessel to sail for a voyage round the world. The vessels to be built for the purpose; to be roomy frigates, as lightly rigged as possible, with auxiliary steam-power, and only a few guns for exercising purposes. The captains would, of course, be chosen for special qualifications for this responsible position, and the
officers and crew, who should be sufficient only to handle the ship properly, would be likewise carefully selected; some encouragement, such as additional pay, being offered so as to induce good officers to volunteer for this service. A competent and sufficient staff of professors and masters-for which many of the present naval instructors would be qualified-to be embarked on board each vessel; the plan of instruction being of course the same in each ship. During their three years' cruise the training - ships would visit every part of the world, avoiding unhealthy places and extremes of climate, timing their visit to each country as far as possible so as to take advantage of the most favourable season of the year. French, Italian, and Spanish masters might be embarked while the ship was in those stations where the respective languages prevailed ; and when practicable, the cadets might be given opportunities for becoming acquainted with foreign countries by expeditions into the interior. On the return of the training-ship at the end of her three years' voyage, an examination of the cadets would take place, and those found qualified would be rated midshipmen; and, after a certain amount of leave to visit their friends, would be appointed to different ships. But in order to encourage the cadets in their studies, and as a reward for diligence and ability, it should be open to those who showed special proficiency to come forward for their examination at any time during the last year in the training - ship, provided they were not under fifteen years of age; and if they succeeded in passing the examination, they should be at once rated midshipmen, and appointed to ships on the station; only in this case, since the lad would have been already two years at least away from England, he should not be kept out for a longer additional period than could be avoided. And since a badly-disposed boy, or one of vicious habits, can do an immense amount of harm